CONTROVERSIES ruled the polity, yesterday, over whether or not Nigeria
will cease to exist as a legal entity after 12 midnight today.A
conglomeration of ethnic nationality groups said going by the
Amalgamation Treaty of January 1, 1914, which joined Northern and
Southern protectorates to create Nigeria with a life span of 100 years,
the country will expire at 12 a.m. today.

Professor Akin Oyebode,
a lawyer, said Nigeria will not expire because the amalgamation was not
put in place by a treaty, but by an order in council by the British
Parliament.Oyebode has a soul mate in legal icon, Professor Itse Sagay
(SAN), who argued that there was no law that automatically gives a
treaty 100 years life span.

However, the ethnic nationalities,
which included Federation of Oodua People, Middle Belt Congress, Lower
Niger Congress and Oporoza House, which congregated on the banner of
Movement for New Nigeria, MNN, insisted that Nigeria would become
history after today and urged all Nigerians to embrace the national
conference to agree on fresh terms of co-existing.

They spoke at a
briefing held at Freedom Park, Lagos. Present at the briefing were
Elder Fred Agbeyegbe, Co-coordinator; Tony Nnadi, Secretary-General; Mrs
Hilda Dokubo, Timi Kaiser Ogoriba, Chief Dan Ekpebide, Abuka Onalo,
Ambah Binaebi, Shade Olukoya and Leye Akinmodiro.On nat’l dialogue,
2015They urged President Goodluck Jonathan to speed up the national
dialogue, warning that it would be disastrous to hold the 2015 elections
without a new constitution emerging from a national conference.
They
said: “The mention of 2015 in Nigeria’s political discourse instantly
evokes two ominous conjectures. One is the haunt of the US intelligence
prediction that Nigeria will disintegrate before 2015.
“The other
very bloody prospect swirls around the 2015 electoral round in which a
northern politician assumes that there would be trouble if the elections
are rigged.”100 years treatyNnadi said: “What the British did in the
amalgamation treaty was to consolidate all the treaties that they signed
with the different ethnic nationalities they subdued in the process of
their conquest.

“By 1914, the various treaties were consolidated
so as to be recognised in international law. Under international law,
every treaty has a life span of 100 years. The Amalgamation Treaty took
effect on January 1, 1914, which means that it will expire on December
31, 2013.
“The second challenge for Nigeria is that the 1999
Constitution, which General Abdulsalami Abubakar gave to Nigeria made
certain proclamations that are rooted in falsehood because it was not a
constitution drawn up by Nigerians.“What will hold Nigeria after
December 31 is a hope that the national conference will produce another
document that Nigerians would accept.”

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Former Director, Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Dan Mou, said Nigeria is fortunate that there
was no separatist movement in the country.He said that issues such as
these were what the national conference should resolve and all the
ethnic minorities should wait to see the outcome of the conference,
adding that President Goodluck Jonathan acted wisely by putting the
conference in place and the outcome should be subjected to a referendum.

No
danger,says OyebodeCountering, Professor Oyebode said Nigeria will not
cease to exist legally on account of the 100 years of amalgamation
because the amalgamation was consummated through an order in council by
the British Parliament.According to him, the process of amalgamation
started in January 1900, when the British Parliament issued an
Order-in-Council through which the Royal Nigeria Company, which
succeeded the United African Company, ceded its power to the British
Crown and resulted in the amalgamation of the Southern protectorate.
He
said the British Parliament also issued an Order-in-Council which
resulted in the amalgamation of Northern protectorate in 1906. The
amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates took place in 1914
through another Order-in-Council.He said the order was used in British
territories, which had no legislature to issue such legislative
instrument.

 He said it was through the order that Nigeria got
her independence in 1960.Professor Oyebode agreed with moves to convene a
national conference because the 1999 Constitution, which was foisted on
Nigerians by the military, shared the same features and characteristics
with the Amalgamation Acts which were enacted without the participation
and consent of Nigerians.

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According to Oyebode, the 1999
Constitution is nothing but Decree No. 24, which has since been
identified as a fraudulent document.Noting that the 1999 Constitution
may be valid but not legal, he said “what we should expect is for the
proposed national conference to lead to a constitutional conference
through which Nigerians can produce a document that they can
respect.”Amalgamation was not a treaty— SagayProfessor Itse Sagay said:
“I totally disagree with the group that the 1914 amalgamation was by a
treaty.

“It was a union imposed on us by the British who were
colonial overlords of Nigeria, then recognised by international law,
which was a legitimate power to join the Northern and Southern
protectorates.“So, it was not a treaty at all. If it were a treaty, both
parties could have sat round the table to negotiate their merger. But
there wasn’t anything like that at all.

“The people just woke up
one morning and found out that they have been joined together by the
superior colonial force.“Meanwhile, contrary to their belief that a
treaty can expire, it can be forever and can be terminated by either
party. A party can withdraw from a treaty at anytime, provided certain
conditions are met.”

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